The Christian hangover

Al Qaeda and What it Means to be Modern

I’ve just posted a new review, of John Gray’s brief study, Al Qaeda and What It Means to be Modern. The title seems to have been moulded a little by publishing opportunism; fair enough. The meat of the matter is the delusions that modern political currents, such as Marxism and free-market economics, have inherited from Christianity. Essential reading.

I picked it up in a nice little second-hand bookshop in Cromer, on the Norfolk coast, while attending the wonderful Cwm To The Valley festival.

In other news…

Do check out Jason Godesky’s review of The Spell of the Sensuous by David Abram—looks like a must-read to me.

While in London with a few hours to kill, I moseyed down to the Prince Charles cinema to see what could be seen for three pounds. The film waiting for me turned out to be the slow, charming drama-documentary, The Cave of the Yellow Dog. Observations of daily life for a Mongolian herding family are threaded through a minimal plot to great effect. An absorbing, delightful, and somewhat melancholy experience.

Beyond that, I’m immersed in getting the first Dreamflesh journal to the printers, and ploughing through the perpetually inventive and moving series Six Feet Under on DVD.

Meanwhile, in Yorkshire, some good friends of mine, and about 600 others, have been trying to raise awareness about climate change by protesting at the huge Drax power station. I wonder about the effectiveness of the tactic of trying to shut the power station down. It’s obviously symbolic, the station being the biggest single carbon emissions culprit in the UK. But even though this is the first anti-climate change direct action event, public awareness of the issue is already relatively widespread. Public and political action in response to the issue is very much “too little too late” at the moment. But in the media war that the protest is fighting, some of the effect is lost when people are clued up enough to say to themselves, “Well, just shutting a power station down for a day isn’t going to change anything is it?” Of course, this misses the symbolic impact of the event. As the Independent quotes from protestors show, none of the people involved see the action in itself as anything but a limited dent in the generally passive, mediated cultural attitude to this gargantuan issue. As ever, the protestors will most likely be dismissed—by the establishment and the neo-greens alike—as ineffective, antagonistic nuisances. But the issue has been raised, and many will have a basic human response to seeing other humans doing something about it. And this will inspire action, even as the source of inspiration is dismissed.

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